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A public records request to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has brought to light a gender discrimination complaint against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. A woman who had worked for Goldman Sachs for 15 years alleges that the company fired her for taking a four-month paid leave after the birth of her third child. A company spokesman said that her termination resulted from strategic business decisions. Her case remains in arbitration as she pursues damages of $1.5 million.

The woman had been a vice president in the Los Angeles office when she went on leave. She had expected her supervisor to accept her growing family because he had four children himself. However, he called her during her leave and dismissed her.

During her employment under this supervisor, she said that he excluded female employees. His business outings revolved around sports and drinking. He displayed no desire to connect with anyone who did not know sports. The woman also asserted that supervisors demanded that women returning from maternity leave bring in new business the same week they got back to the office. She said that her dismissal included vague references to her performance as the cause of her firing. Male advisers at the office, however, did not lose their jobs despite performances that did not match hers.

Employers often try to mask their discrimination with business reasons. A person experiencing discrimination that appears motivated by gender, race, religion or age discrimination could talk to an attorney familiar with employment law. An attorney could determine if a formal complaint might resolve the problem. In addition to organizing evidence, legal counsel could communicate a client’s position during arbitration or litigation.